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To Sail Beyond the Sunset

(The World As Myth #4)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  10,670 ratings  ·  221 reviews
Maureen Johnson, the somewhat irregular mother of Lazarus Long, wakes up in bed with a man and a cat. The cat is Pixel, well-known to fans of the New York Times bestseller The Cat Who Walks through Walls. The man is a stranger to her, and besides that, he is dead . . .

So begins Robert A. Heinlein's newest novel, To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Filled with the master's most belo
Mass Market Paperback, 434 pages
Published June 1st 1988 by Ace Books (first published July 7th 1987)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  10,670 ratings  ·  221 reviews

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Megan Baxter
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I find reading Heinlein to be such a strange experience. His books are always fun, even this strange "world as fiction" stuff he gets further and further into later in his career. They're enjoyable. I reread them ad nauseam.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have no doubt that there are many people who, knowing that I reserve the 5-star rating for books that I think must be read, will start to read this book (or read it entirely) and conclude that I have become simply a dirty old man. A glance at the other Goodreads reviews of this book will tell you why; the vast majority of them seem to give it a rating of one or two stars with passionate complaints about the sex in the book, the “horniness” of the first-person narrator, the lack of action (!), ...more
Robert J. Sullivan
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
"To Sail Beyond the Sunset The Life and Loves of Maureen Johnson (Being the Memoirs of a Somewhat Irregular Lady)"

Robert A. Heinlein was one of my first discoveries in science fiction once I moved beyond Tom Swift, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs, along with Isaac Asimov, Keith Laumer and others. I still like "Glory Road", "Starship Troopers", "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress", "Sixth Column", "Citizen of the Galaxy" and some of his short fiction. In one of his books (which one I'v
Jan 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: scifi, 1paper, 2fiction
One of his last & about the worst book Heinlein ever wrote, in my opinion. It's long, wordy & without much to recommend it. There is some action in it, but it's buried in windy passages. Not worth a re-read & I only got through it because I'm such a fan of his other works. Again, he is promoting incest. ...more
Jul 08, 2007 rated it did not like it
Among Heinlein's last books, "serious" fans aren't quite sure if he was going insane in his old age, or if this book was meant as a sort of wink-wink nudge-nudge self-parody. In any case, it's pretty terrible.
Jan 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: hard core Heinlein fans
Shelves: sciencefiction
Wish I hadn't bothered; this book is terrible. The thesis (oft-repeated) seems to be "Maureen is an amoral wench," and this is backed up by pages and pages of her sexual exploits. In between the incest and polygamy is nonsense about alternate timelines and an assassination squad. All this is tied back into other novels like Time Enough for Love, and since it's told from a different perspective (Maureen's), hard core Heinlein fans will enjoy some of it. But ultimately it's only a few excellent pa ...more
Jun 24, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one!
Shelves: avoid, other-spec-fic
It has been close to 20 years since I read this, and remembering it still makes me want to scrub my brain.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Oh dear. What to say about this book?

If you're thinking about reading it, be warned that there is a LOT of incest and I mean a lot. If Heinlein's evil plan was to overcome our natural 'phobia' of incest by repeated exposure then he may have partially succeeded because by the end I really didn't care any more whether Maureen slept with her father/son/whatever. If his plan was to write a good book then I think he might have failed. I found myself plodding through this but unwilling to give up alt
Scott Holstad
Jun 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish, sci-fi
On March 7, 2014 I reviewed Robert A. Heinlein's "I Will Fear No Evil" and gave it one star. It was a sex-obsessed orgy with little "science fiction" to offer. Realizing it was published in 1970 during the Sexual Revolution, I thought maybe it was a one off. I was wrong. I started "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" yesterday and the initial premise seemed good -- a woman wakes up in bed with her cat and an unknown dead man, and she doesn't know who she is or where she is. Sounds good, right? Wrong. The ...more
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
WARNING: Please read Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Revolt in 2100, Methuselah's Children, Time Enough for Love, The Number of the Beast, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls prior to reading this. A familiarity with the "future history" stories are also recommended.
Maureen Johnson, born in 1882 and mother of Lazarus Long, is one horny gal. This is her memoirs, told to us while being held in a jail on some unexplored timeline. Let me just say straight off that if you have a problem readi
Ian Kemp
Dec 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
This is his worst book by far of what I have read. It is really just bizarre sex thing over and over again apparently told by a woman. Which when you remember this is actually being written by a weird old man makes you just feel creepy.
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes this ties for fave with Stranger in a Strange Land, but most of the time this one wins. It's actually a pivotal book in the Lazarus Long series, because it deals with his mother and his origins. Frankly, I find Maureen, his mom, about a million times more interesting than Lazarus himself. This book was really forward thinking in portraying a smart, capable woman who really, truly pursued what she wanted in life, and was kind and even-handed in doing it. Maureen is a real role model in ...more
Apr 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi, other
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
George Saoulidis
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is Heinlein's last novel. It's what you get during your I-don't-give-a-flying-fuck author phase of your life, and it's wonderful. Full of references to earlier works and characters, this one is pure fun and I love it.
Simon Mcleish
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Originally published on my blog here in September 1998.

To Sail Beyond the Sunset was Robert Heinlein's very last novel, published just before his death. Like his other late novels (I think this applies to every one published after Job: A Comedy of Justice), it brings together many of his favourite characters. It is a sequel to The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, though you will have needed to read several other Heinlein novels to really understand what's going on (notably The Number of the Beast an
Jeff Yoak
As a huge Heinlein fan who has read many of his books several times, it was a delight to realize that I hadn't read this one at all. When I was younger and going through his novels I had a general dislike for the World as Myth later novels and I guess skipped this one entirely.

I still dislike this aspect of the novel, but as I've become a diehard fan, it was a chance to spend some more time with characters whom I deeply love. Seeing Jubal, Lazarus and others again, and with a new story, made the
This is the story of Maureen, Lazarus's Mom. It really is a critique of the 20th century, and he did not approve of much that happened in the US in this time. He makes a lot of strong assertions but being fiction, doesn't have to provide evidence for any of it. He throws in a couple of teens that were Maureen's kids to show how rotten kids had become and then lets them fall out of the story when having done this. At the end for no good reason except that Maureen misses her Daddy and wants an inc ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Have read all Heinlein but this book was most disturbing romance history book with some time travels in background. Does author mean that today being amoral is future's normal? Whatever incest scenes were disturbing.
Alan Smith
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it
This was the last book Heinlein wrote, and while it is by no means up with his real classics, such as "Time Enough for Love" and "Stranger in a Strange Land" it's a fitting enough finale for the great man.

The work is essentially the autobiography of Maureen Long, mother (and wife, and lover - yes, it's that kind of book) of Lazarus Long, the oldest man in the galaxy. A conclusion to his "World of Myth" series (essentially a kind of exercise in literary cross fertilisation, where Heinlein's vari
May 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
Although I've been reading sci-fi for forty years, I was never a Heinlein reader. Not sure why, he was just not someone I had discovered and followed. But of course I was familiar with him. And so, in the late '80's I read The Cat Who Walked Through Walls and had picked up this book, a follow-up (and Heinlein's last) novel. This has been on my shelf all these years and I finally got around to reading it. And I'm sorry that I did.

My perception here is that as he was ending his career and life, He
Rhy Moore
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, sci, sff
I believe I was 17 or 18 when I first read To Sail Beyond the Sunset; I loved and hated it. I found parts of it disgusting or infuriating, but never, ever boring and always thought provoking. Sixteen years later I have re-read it a dozen or more times and it remains a favorite read that retains interest in part because what irritates and how has changed over time.

For example, I was sputtering mad about (view spoiler) when I first read it. I still get irked today (and
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
Arminzerella's recommendation. Pretty good so far, albeit a tad confusing.

About halfway through now. This book should be subtitled "A Time Traveler's Guide to Eugenics Through Multidimensional Incest."

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise after reading Starship Troopers that any of Heinlein's other works should be head-bludgeoning social commentary thinly guised as science fiction.

I'm tempted to say this is proto-Mary-Sue-by-proxy... or maybe not by proxy, I don't know enough about Heinlein to be s
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
The biography of an immortal, time traveling red headed babe.
Entertaining, but you really need to have read some other Heinlein books to get what he's doing here, as it doesn't stand on it's own very well, as he uses this book to retell some parts of other books from a different POV.
Enough humor and interesting 'debates' on life, sex, politics etc to keep you from realizing not much is happening and it's taking a lot of pages for nothing to happen.

This book and 'The cat that walked through walls
Trey Graham
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this in high school, and then reread it at some point, but it's been a long time since I checked in with Maureen Johnson Long. Heinlein himself may be an acquired taste, and heaven knows his politics are dubious, but I find Maureen charming — an adventurous, sex-positive, no-nonsense broad to contend with. She is of course a figment of a strange man's strange imagination, but I enjoy her company. And the author's weakness for cats is kind of endearing.
It was interesting to hear Maureen's story. It really delves into the beginning of the Long and Howard Families. Not for the prudish as it definitely has lots of incest related storyline but not violent type. Always consensual. But then again if you have ever read a Heinlein book before you already know that. LOL. Once you can get past that it is a very good story.
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I can't even pretend to be unbiased here. I originally read this at 12 or 13 and swallowed all of the moralising at that impressionable age. So if it isn't actually good, I can't possibly tell because it confirms so much of my worldview.
Thots while reading:
I enjoyed the discussion about revisionist history and how the United States is always portrayed as the 'villain' in the 'new' historical narrative. It was an interesting discussion, and the disparaging comments do add a new twist to Heinlein if they were truly what he believed.

I get that Heinlein is not happy with religion, in general, and specifically 'organized' religion, but his continual comments about Jesus of Nazareth not being a historical figure are a bit old. One m
Andrew Sayles
Aug 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
There is a lot of unhealthy paradox to unpack here. To start with, I would probably retitle it "Anachronistic Polyamory in the Multiverse, but Mostly Missouri." Then again, that might make you more likely to read it. The truth is, it is among the least favorite books that I've ever read. But I did finish reading it. This is partly because it was recommended to me, and partly because it was always just intriguing or absurd enough to keep me going. Maybe if I had read some of Heinlein's earlier wo ...more
Mar 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: stopped-reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim Prevott
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
True Heinlein, revisiting some of the best characters and worlds
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Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre

Other books in the series

The World As Myth (4 books)
  • Time Enough for Love
  • The Number of the Beast
  • The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (The World As Myth)

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